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When a plugin update breaks your website…

When a plugin update breaks your website…

Earlier this week I encountered an issue with a client’s website whereby when you viewed the site, all you could see were the words “View in admin only”. I was initially stumped – never had I come across this issue before.

My early assumptions were that it was a host-related issue, as has happened before. I uploaded a php file to the root of the /htdocs/ folder to see whether the server was playing up. The file rendered as expected, so it was back to the drawing board.

When in WordPress…

The website in question is a WordPress installation so my next step was to take a look at which plugins could have broken the website. I popped into my /wp-content/plugins/ folder and sorted the sub-folders and files by “Last updated”. Three of the twelve plugins installed on the website were updated earlier that morning, consistent with when the site went down (although the client didn’t mention this at the time).

I renamed all three updated plugins to have an underscore ( _ ) at the beginning of the filename (a quick and easy way to deactivate a plugin in WordPress). After this, the site burst back into life.

Now I set about re-enabling the plugins one at a time to see which one was causing the issue. So in no particular order I enabled the plugins. Due to the process of elimination, I narrowed down the troublesome plugin to be Google Analytics Dashboard created by Joost de Valk from Yoast. Taking a peek at the support forum for the plugin, plenty of other people were also experiencing the same issues as us.

Thankfully the plugin issue was resolved quickly and a patch has been deployed to the plugin which we have subsequently deployed to our clients.

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